The brassy City Cellar has become a local magnet for business, politics, socializing and entertaining. ... More »
City Cellar Wine Bar & Grill rises on the grounds of Roosevelt Raceway. And these people definitely know their way around the track.
But the bright, freewheeling showcase doesn't feel like just another link in a chainlet. There are similarities, of course. Yet, City Cellar comes across fresh, not formulaic.
This City Cellar is a big, theatrical space, full of exposed brick, dark-wood trim, artful lighting and enough glass-enclosed, floor-to-ceiling wine storage to keep the party going.
The brassy newcomer already has become a local magnet for business, politics, socializing and entertaining. The dining room is deftly run; service, sharp.
City Cellar's open kitchen shines in stainless steel, and, more important, on the plate, with assorted cuisines and variables.
You'll enjoy brick-oven individual pizza pies anytime, especially the zesty four-cheese production and the mellow vegetarian number. Continuing the Italianate theme, consider the unwieldy gnocchi "alla vodka" under a mantle of nutty Asiago cheese -- not very subtle, but good. Better: a hearty, homey rigatoni Bolognese.
Turn Mediterranean with a husky platter of well-seasoned hummus, baked feta, chunky caponata and olives. Veer Euro with onion-and-mushroom soup. Head American with a fine, pan-seared crab cake. Go Gallic with escargots in garlic butter.
Salads show some zing, pairing spiced pears, hazelnuts and Gorgonzola cheese with spinach; a hamburger-size, pine nut-crusted disc of goat cheese with mesclun and dried figs.
Chef Christian Randell's main courses stick to full-flavored basics. Tender, grilled pork chops atop pureed potatoes get a boost from sweet-sour shallots; a beefy New York strip steak benefits from a garlicky, potato "lasagne."
But the braised lamb shank is a bit dry. The sesame-crusted yellowfin tuna steak is perfectly rosy, but the wok-seared vegetables and sweet-soy dressing add nothing. The lead fish is miso-glazed, wild striped bass.
The brasserie-style establishment has 40 wines by the glass, many more by the bottle, and nightly flights.
For dessert, the choices include delectably excessive banana-cream doughnuts, pristine panna cotta gelato, a tangy Key lime-and-fruit tart, lush New York cheesecake, and voluminous ice-cream sundaes.
As with so much at City Cellar, they're a sure thing.